My Brilliant Friend
Synopsis: The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow and their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiment of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform their relationship.
Angela Says: In anticipation of the TV series based on the book, I read this to pick out my own cast and how the characters should be played. The story introduces you to the two main characters, Elena and Lila, but you also see what is happening within their families and communities during the 1950’s in Naples, Italy. You follow along as the girls grow from young playmates to young ladies figuring out their place in a changing world. Co-recommending this title with Stephanie who shared that the TV series is mesmerizing and keeps you engaged.
Angela's Past Staff Picks
Riding The Bus With My Sister
Synopsis: Rachel Simon's sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has mental retardation, spends her days riding the buses in her Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asked Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year. This wise, funny, deeply affecting book is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyper-busy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister's extraordinary world. These are life lessons from which every reader can profit: how to live in the moment, how to pay attention to what really matters, how to change, how to love--and how to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Donna Says: I was thinking about sibling relationships after just spending a week on vacation with my sister and this book came to mind. Our relationship does not present the same challenges or dynamic that exists between Rachel and Beth; however, I believe this memoir encourages us to step outside of our expectations and seek to understand the paths that our siblings make for their lives. Recommended for those who enjoyed Rosemary: the Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson.
Donna's Past Staff Picks
Fire and Blood
George R.R. Martin
Synopsis: Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen the only family of dragon lords to survive the Doom of Valyria took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
Elizabeth Says: Can’t wait for the final season of Game of Thrones next month? Tide yourself over with Fire & Blood; the first is a series detailing the history of House Targaryen. Can be used for a book about Court Intrigue.
Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
Synopsis: In the midst of a raging blizzard, lightning struck on the night Laura Shane was born, and a mysterious blond-haired stranger showed up just in time to save her from dying. Years later, in the wake of another storm, Laura will be saved again. For someone is watching over her, but just as lightning illuminates, darkness always follows close behind.
Megan Says: This book reads nothing like a horror novel, even though its home is in our horror section of the library. This is a sci-fi thriller that is oh-so-good. I love Dean Koontz because of his quirky story ideas that are always incredibly interesting. This one is a love story told in a most unusual way.
Megan's Past Staff Picks
The Mangle Street Murders
Synopsis: After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country’s most famous private detective. In 1882, London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: a young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty; but March is convinced that he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.
Nina Says: The first in the Gower St. Detective series is a not-so-subtle homage to Holmes and Conan Doyle viewed through a mirror darkly humorous. A detailed yet grim world where the ridiculous underscores social commentary relevant then and now. March’s Watson, though, is no simple narrator for Grice’s genius and holds her own in wit and intellect. The novel will not be every detective story fan’s cup of tea but offers just the right bite for those looking for a different kind of mystery. Works well for these Read More Challenge categories: Absurdist Fiction, Crime or Criminal, Historical Fiction, or Tragicomedy.
Nina's Past Staff Picks
From Dawn To Decadence
Synopsis: Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the creative novelty that will burst forth tomorrow or the next day.
Randall Says: Jacques Barzun’s magnum opus, From Dawn to Decadence, is a sweeping survey of Western Culture since 1500. Barzun guides the reader through the ages, debunking historical myths and profiling with keen insight the contributions of Mozart, Voltaire, Oliver Wendell Holmes and so many more, from the familiar to the obscure. A masterwork of history.
Randall's Past Staff Picks